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5 Observations: Sabres edge Wild 2-1

5 Observations: Sabres edge Wild 2-1
Posted at 12:49 AM, Nov 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-02 00:49:15-04

It only took the Buffalo Sabres five days to avenge themselves after an ugly 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild. Tuesday, the Sabres were able to seal a win with a goal late in the third period by Johan Larsson, edging the Wild 2-1. Buffalo is now 4-3-2 , above .500 for the first time since January of 2013. Five observations from Tuesday's win:

Sabres start strong

In the first period, the Sabres dominated the Wild, finding the back of the net on a Ryan O’Reilly goal just 3:16 into the game.The play started with O'Reilly creating pressure as the Wild looked to break out of their own end. That pressure lead to a turnover, with the puck eventually cycling back to the point. Rasmus Ristolainen gained control after a few passes and sent a perfect, low shot on goal. The puck sat in front of the net, bouncing off a few Wild defenders, before getting buried by O'Reilly. The goal snapped an incredibly impressive streak by Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who hadn’t allowed a goal since Oct. 22, earning three consecutive shutouts. Buffalo out-shot Minnesota 9-6, and generated far more chances than the Wild with controlled play. If the Sabres can start more games like this they'll like the outcome more often than not. 

It didn’t last long

Much like the Sabres' first meeting with the Wild last week, one team dominated the second period. This time it was the Minnesota Wild. When it was all said and done, in the second the Wild out-shot Buffalo 15-7, and even those numbers don’t really do the period justice. Somehow, Buffalo almost escaped with the lead, but with less than four minutes left in the period Mikael Granlund beat Robin Lehner on a Wild power play to tie things at one.

Bailey impresses in season debut

Justin Bailey, along with his linemates Derek Grant and Nick Baptiste, put together an impressive game -- especially in the first period. Baptiste had the most chances and finished the night with three shots, but he had some help from his friends. Bailey actually had the fewest minutes of any Sabres player Tuesday night (8:26), but in the limited time he was on the ice, I liked his game.

3 gold stars for Foligno, Larsson and Gionta 

So far this season the Foligno-Larsson-Gionta line has been consistent and has contributed offensively, but never has it come at a more crucial time than it did on Tuesday. With less than seven minutes left, the line worked together to get the Sabres on the board and take the lead. Foligno crashed the boards while the Wild were looking to break out. That pressure allowed Gionta to regain possession and streak down the board while Larsson camped out in front of Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk. Then, after holding the puck for just a split second, Gionta was able to find Larsson in front of the net for the goal. It was a solid all-around effort for the line that has looked solid together since the halfway point of last season.

Tyler Ennis is slowly finding his way

Early on, I thought Tyler Ennis was the Sabres best player. He was flying around the ice, making quality passes and maintaining possession while bigger and stronger defenders tried knocking him off the puck. He wasn't able to find the score sheet, but if he keeps playing like he did on Tuesday, the points and goals will come. 

Zach Bogosian left Tuesday's game in the first period with a knee injury and did not return. The severity of the injury is unknown at this time, but if he does miss any more time, expect Casey Nelson to slide into the lineup. The Sabres return home Thursday Nov. 3 for a matchup with Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

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